Sunday, July 05, 2009

Ode to Julia Child

The first thing you think of when you hear the name "Julia Child" is that voice -- warbling, high-pitched -- it's what you imagine fussy looking chickens sounding like if they could talk. The second thing is the fact that the woman cooked French food, which, if you are not French, seems like a terrifying thing to do.

Or at least, that's was my thought before I began reading some of her cookbooks, her memoir "My Life in France" and seeing the trailers for Julie and Julia (in which, Meryl Streep looks like she's having way too much fun as Julia Child). Now I have to give the woman props for her writing and for being a role model for many women.

In the next few weeks, there will be many articles about Julia Child (hell, this month's Vanity Fair has a great summary of her life) popping up in support of the movie. In a quick summary:

Very tall middle class girl from California, instead of getting married as is the norm in the 1930s, goes off to help serve in the war. During which time, she ends up working for the OSS (perhaps as a spy, which is even cooler), meets her soulmate and eventually they fall in love in China amongst good food and interesting times.

After the war, the couple moves to France (he to work in government) and she finds her passion in cooking. She helps friends with a cookbooks, which after bouncing from publisher to publisher, gets published and the rest is history.

That's some of it, but really, what's inspirational is that she didn't find her life's passion until after 40. She bucked the norm at the time (which was to get your Mrs. degree and become a housewife) and married late in her 30s -- which was considered being a spinster back then.

While cooking has been derided by some feminists in the past as an overly "domestic" activity (the old image of a woman, barefoot and pregnant while chained to the stove), you can't deny that Child's legacy is an inspiration for many women. It's a reminder that we can find, pursue and succeed at our life's passion, no matter the age.

In an age where youth is king and there's the idea that you have to have your life figured out and on that track soon after graduating from college, it's nice to know that isn't always the recipe for happiness or success. Sometimes we need time to figure out what to do and maybe, by then, we'll have the drive to pursue it to the desired fullness.

As I wander into my 30s as a mother and wife, it's inspiring to know that whatever is out there waiting for me, I still can grab and seize it. Time hasn't passed me by. If Julia Child didn't find her passion until her 30s and 40s, then I think that there's still plenty of time for me. It's just a matter of finding the right spark and setting it on fire.

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